Emission Gap Report 2018: the gap between needs and prospects for emissions reduction

The Emission Gap Report, now in its ninth edition, is the report of the United Nations Environment Program which presents an in-depth technical analysis on the Climate Action of recent years with the aim of illustrating the gap between the the level of emissions forecast for 2030 and the levels corresponding to the objective of maintaining the increase in temperatures by 2 or 1.5 ° C.

The main purpose of this publication was to show the difference between the situation we are in and the one in which we should be, the aim is to be able to progress on a more effective and less costly way to achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement.

Global greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) in 2030 could increase by about 13 and 15 billion tons compared to the level necessary to maintain global warming, the Report has therefore analyzed the impact of the objectives and policies to reduce emissions from countries, and especially if they are sufficient to limit the increase in global average temperature.

It is no coincidence that the Emission Gap Report was published just a few days after the official inauguration in Katowice, Poland, of the United Nation Climate Change Conference (COP24), where the "Paris Rulebook" will be presented to quickly define the implementation rules of the Paris Agreement.

UNEP has stated that annual greenhouse gas emissions have reached a record level of 53.5 billion tons in 2017 after three years of decline. However, emissions in 2030 will have to be around 25% and 55% less than last year to put the world on the right path to climate change mitigation.

"Increased emissions and delayed action means that the gap for this year's report is bigger than ever", stated in the Emission Gap Report.

For an effective Climate Action

Currently, the 20 largest economies in the world, G20, are by no means on track to meet their commitments and the sustainable development goals of the 2030 Agenda, UNEP said.

The current commitments expressed in the Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) are inadequate to bridge the emission gap in 2030. Now more than ever, an unprecedented Climate Action is required by all nations.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, countries have negotiated goals internationally and implemented them nationwide, a top-down approach. Instead, the Paris Agreement saw the transition to a bottom-up approach. Countries should now determine their climate goals at national level and communicate them to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Paris agreement has mainly done three things to ensure that Nationally Determined Contributions are in fact concrete commitments rather than mere aspirations: it requires countries first to undertake and communicate ambitious contributions; secondly, it requires that the second NDC of a country should be in line with the first and represent its direct progression; it also requires countries to pursue internal mitigation measures in order to achieve the goals of their NDCs.

The crux of the matter is the gradual increase in ambitions required by the Paris Agreement. What really prevents countries from doubling their commitments? They know the scientific imperative. They took stock of the situation thanks to the IPCC report. They have witnessed the increase in natural disasters, such as increasingly powerful storms, fires and floods.

As stated by UNEP's science director, Jian Liu: "When governments take tax measures to subsidize low-carbon solutions and tax fossil fuels, they can stimulate appropriate investments in the energy sector and significantly reduce their emissions from Fortunately, the potential for using fiscal policy as an incentive is increasingly being taken into consideration: 51 carbon pricing initiatives are in place or planning, covering around 15% of global emissions, if all fuel subsidies are suppressed fossil, global carbon emissions could be reduced by more than 10% by 2030".

Rapid and regular increases in ambitions will be essential for an effective Climate Action.


Emission Gap Report 2018: the gap between needs and prospects for emissions reduction